Witness in unilateral conversion case lodges police report over alleged harassment

PETALING JAYA: A woman who is one of the plaintiffs and witnesses in a lawsuit related to unilateral conversion has lodged a police report against officers of the Kota Tinggi Islamic Religious Department for alleged harassment.

The woman is one of 14 who had filed a legal challenge at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on March 20 against eight state governments over state laws that allowed unilateral conversion without the consent of both parents.

According to the police report, a group identifying themselves as officers from the department, including one in uniform, had gone to her home in Ulu Tiram, Johor at about 3pm on Wednesday (March 29).

"They came to the front door and asked me to open the door. They entered my house and scolded me for filing a case against the Johor state government at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

"I am also a plaintiff and witness in the case," read her complaint filed at the Ulu Tiram police station on Thursday (March 30).

"The officers had scolded me for not wearing a hijab while in my own home. The officers took a video and photos of my young children and my home," she further alleged.

She said the officers had violated her privacy by taking photos and videos without her consent, adding that she lodged the report due to fear and concern over the safety of herself and her children.

Speaking on behalf of the woman, Agaman Ani's legal unit director Arun Doraisamy said the woman was a victim of unilateral conversion, where she had been converted by one of her parents, but had only practised the Hindu faith all her life.

Agamam Ani, which is a Hindu NGO, is another plaintiff in the case.

He said as the case is underway, it is for the courts to decide on the matter.

"This kind of harassment is uncalled for and illegal. It amounts to tampering with a witness. She is a witness in this case," he said at a press conference here.

He said the department should address matters related to the case in court.

"Do not harass our plaintiffs. We are preparing to file a motion of contempt of court (against the Johor state government)," he said.

He said the woman was shaken up after the incident and worried about her safety.

Arun further claimed that the children of the woman aged between eight and 13 years old were interviewed by the officers who asked about their religion.

He also claimed that photos of the woman's prayer altar were also taken.

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include M. Indira Gandhi; former chairman of Malaysia Hindu Sangam and Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism S. Mohan; and Arun, who is also chairman of the Indira Gandhi Action Team.

The rest of the plaintiffs are individuals from Perlis, Kedah, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Johor and Kuala Lumpur.

They named the state governments of Perlis, Kedah, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Johor and the Federal Territories as defendants.

They are represented by Messrs Raj & Sach.

They are seeking for a court declaration that the state enactments which allowed the unilateral conversion of children into Islam as invalid as it violated Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution and other matters interpreted in the Indira Gandhi case in 2018.

They also sought for a declaration that unilateral conversion was unconstitutional and breached Article 12(4) as well as other reliefs deemed fit by the court.

On Jan 29, 2018, the Federal Court nullified the unilateral conversion of Indira's three children to Islam by her ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah.

The five-man panel unanimously ruled that the consent of both parents must be sought and the Article 12(4) that stated the word "parent" should not be construed literally and that the consent of both parents were required.

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